We value your support now more than ever.

All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

Though Riffin’, the second full-length from North Carolina’s the Cherry Valence, is mercifully brief, its power to disturb is pretty far-reaching. In just 33 minutes, the band seems bound and determined to drag rock music kicking and screaming back to the bad old days before punk. You know, when strutting, tuneless riff-rawk ruled the AOR airwaves and skinny, bare-chested men mugged for your viewing displeasure on the stages of pre-MTV photo-ops such as Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Sure, Iggy and the Stooges are occasional points of reference here (“Can’t Get Enough,” “She Hooks Up”), but if you contemplate Bad Company minus the pop songs, Molly Hatchet minus the cool whistle in “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” or even just the phrase “Jim Dandy to the rescue,” you’ll have a much better sense of what the Cherries seem to be up to. I say “seem” because it’s entirely possible that the album is actually a Hellacopters-style think piece, a postmodern exercise in exhibiting a bankrupt musical form (call it “boogie rock”) as a piece of high-concept artistry. The dadaists had toilets and bicycle wheels; these guys have noodling leads and crash-boom-crash rhythms—improbably supplied by two drummers—that make the beat from “We Will Rock You” sound supple. They’ve also got a truckload of grinding, head-bangin’ tunes, one of which has a refrain that goes “I’m gonna sweat, sweat/Sweat all over you.” It’s called “Sweat, Sweat, Sweat (All Over You).” Still, if your idea of a good time is listening to Ted Nugent’s Scream Dream while air-brushing your custom van, run, don’t walk to the nearest copy of Riffin’. —Shannon Zimmerman